Kate Simon

Kate Simon’s raw, honest account of her life in her three-volume memoir was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “a classic of autobiography.” After immigrating to America with her family at age four, Simon resisted her father’s ambitions to make her leave school to become a concert pianist, instead studying English literature at Hunter College. She then married Steve Simon, a deaf endocrinologist, but after losing her husband to a brain tumor, she married again in 1947, hoping to provide her daughter Lexie with a father. After her daughter’s death, she divorced in 1959. She travelled widely and from 1959–1978 wrote a series of guidebooks called Places and Pleasures for Meridian Books. She then wrote her memoirs, Bronx Primitive: Portraits of a Childhood in 1982, Wider World: Portraits of an Adolescence in 1986, and Etchings in an Hourglass in 1990. The books were shocking for their discussion of her mother’s abortions, her own early experiences of sexual abuse, her political, artistic, and sexual explorations in college, her affairs, and her painful second marriage. But they also showcased an independent woman who spent her life searching for meaning and finding it in the most unlikely places.

Topics: Memoirs

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Bronx Primitive, by Kate Simon, Penguin Books, 1997 (originally published 1982).

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Kate Simon." (Viewed on June 23, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/simon-kate>.


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